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The Core Curriculum

The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe, 1620.

Relates to: 

Marlowe’s play (ca. 1592) is believed to be the first dramatization of the (Germanic) Faust legend. His source for the theme was a translation of the German Historia, titled Historie of the damnable Life, and deserved Death of Doctor Iohn Faustus (1592). He incorporated some of the more farcical scenes from this source, and at times quotes from it verbatim. Marlowe’s text also adopts traditional elements of the morality play—e.g. the pairing of good and evil angels who address the protagonist—and shares with the popular dramas of its age the tendency to juxtapose the ridiculous and the serious. In terms of its composition, however, the text uses dialogue and monologue in ways that are uncharacteristic for the time. This has often been cited as evidence for the inherent modernism of the text. Despite its unevenness, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus became a staple of Elizabethan theater and a canonical text of the Western tradition. Goethe was aware of Marlowe’s play and greatly admired its composition, but he apparently had not read it by the time he completed Faust I.       


via Wikimedia Commons. Image in the Public Domain.

Contemporaneous Resource
Access Level: 
Public Domain